Broad and Green Oaks

Side by side in their woodland clearing, Broad and Green Oaks are the keepers of friendship and poetry, secrets and love.

This secluded field, once cleared for common use, casts a spell on those that stumble across it. It is a place that guards its secrets. If the hornets that nest in the Oaks don’t deter the casual wanderer, perhaps the wild, tick-bearing grass will.

There are ways to break the spell – or to weave oneself into it. Deers love this peaceful place. The alcoholic sap that seeps through splits in the Oaks’ bark is beloved of the Purple Emperor Butterfly.

Intoxication of all kinds is a theme of Broad and Green’s domain. Somewhere in the woods beyond is a secret garden – lost, overgrown, but still there, for those in the know. It was made by Bloomsbury Set affiliate Lorna Wishart, who met in the village with her lover, poet Laurie Lee.

Lee took inspiration from this landscape, and today other artists and writers come to Binsted – Annie Freud and Luke Jennings are among recent visitors to the village’s Arts Festival.

According to a 19th Century map, Broad and Green Oak mark a boundary between pasture and arable land. They stand for other boundaries, too, however fluid. Between this world and veiled worlds, between art and life, past and future, society and love.

Where you hope to pass, Broad Oak stretches out a long, low branch. This branch might eventually reach the ground, to support the Oak in old age. Until then, we pause on the cusp, and listen to the stories from this secret realm.

Oak drawing by Richard Geraint Evans

Tales from the realm of Broad Oak and Green Oak:

A secret garden in Binsted Woods

Ghosts of a 19th Century Park

How glaciers make homes for West Sussex water serpents

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